“I can always see something of myself in the characters I play.” – Mark Wahlberg
When I was a kid Mark Wahlberg was known for 3 things.
1. He was the kid brother of Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids On The Block.
2. He was a rapper called Marky Mark (see “Good Vibrations“).
3. Calvin Klein model. Somewhat like Bieber is today.
Thankfully Penny Marshall (played Laverne in “Laverne & Shirley”) had a talk with him about acting. Here’s what Mark remembers:
When I sat down with her, I was like, ‘Nah, I don’t wanna act.’ She goes, ‘What do you mean? You’re acting all the time, you’re acting right now. You know, you’re just acting like you’re cool, you act like a tough guy. You know, take the pages. Go outside, look ’em over, and then come back in, and, and audition for one of the parts’.
He did, and landed a role in her movie “Renaissance Man”. A couple of years later he starred in “Boogie Nights” and the rest is Hollywood history!
Before I semi-spoil his movie “The Gambler” for you, check out his appearance on “Inside the Actors Studio”. All creatives can learn something from it!
So, here is why I loved this movie. It’s about inheritance. Not just money but of everything. Who our parents were, what shaped them, the culture, environment and so on.
The problem Mark’s character Jim is trying to deal with, as luxurious as it may seem, is just that. He comes from a rich family. He wants to get out his mother’s shadow. Dealing with not having a father. Not feeling as if he is enough as he is. Not being able to say: “I am worthy”.
Jim: “I need a lot of things. I gotta wipe myself out first. I need to have no past. If I can get to nothing, then I can start.”
His way of wiping the slate clean is to gamble away every penny. In the process he gets in debt to some unsavoury characters.
There’s one person who Jim seems to connect with on a deep level and that’s his grandfather Ed.
Ed: “Nothing is the best thing I can give you. I don’t care about the other sons of bitches, they can have the money. They need it, because without it they are zero. With you…the best thing I can give you is zero.”
Ed has learned a lesson about what money can and can’t do for people. He sees something in Jim that reminds him of himself. That’s why he doesn’t leave anything to Jim in his will.
Later on Jim visits Ed in the hospital.
Jim: “I’m gonna miss you.”
Ed: “Fuck that. I won’t know about that. I need to know what you’re worth when I leave you with nothing. What I need to know is that you’ll do me proud. You’re me, if you’ll have it. You’re all that I’ve got that’s anything like me.”
I don’t know if they thought about it but it works on many different levels. That he basically won the lottery by being born into wealth. That his grandfather had made the family fortune by investing in computers without fully understanding what it was he was investing in. Basically, that life itself is a gamble.
Along the way he realizes that he’s not entirely unlike his mother. He doesn’t really like hearing about other people’s problems. Also, his own attempt at having a family didn’t turn out so well.
In hunter/gatherer societies the belongings of the deceased would be destroyed so that their spirit wouldn’t come back to haunt the survivors. The only thing inherited was the principles by which they lived.
Maybe the movie was trying to point to something similar. What we inherit from those who came before us can either haunt us or help us.